FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Communities impacted by the ongoing unrest in the Middle East took to the streets of Fort Lauderdale to make their voices heard in dual rallies held in close proximity to each other, nearly two days after Hamas launched a surprise attack out of Gaza that led to a declaration of war from Israel.
7News cameras captured pro-Israel protesters as they chanted and held up Israel flags near the 1900 block of East Sunrise Boulevard, Sunday evening.
“Hey, hey, Israel! Hey, hey, Israel!” they chanted.
“We don’t hate all the Arabic [people], we hate the Hamas people, the Hamas, the killing people, that they kill babies, they kill kids,” said a pro-Israel demonstrator.
Across the street, protesters supporting Palestine held a large sign simply reading “Palestine” in large letters.
Not far from this intersection, other supporters of Palestine marched down Sunrise Boulevard.
“We are here to defend the civilians, the women and children that are being killed by the Israeli terrorist state,” said a demonstrator.
A woman who was marching with this group said many people in the U.S. don’t know what people in Palestine deal with on a daily basis.
“It’s important to understand the context. This didn’t just start today. Gaza has been living under siege for a while, over 15 years now,” she said. “That means they’ve been controlled from land, air and sea by Israel. No one can go, and no one can come, so you have to understand people have have been living in an open-air prison for far too long. It’s either they live a miserable life and a slow death, or they fight for their freedom and die trying.”
There was a heavy presence from Fort Lauderdale Police officers, who were seen near both groups. Some officers wore riot gear.
Both rallies remained peaceful for the most part. A Palestinian flag, however, was seen burning at one point.
Oftentimes, demonstrators pointed to the deep-rooted history of conflict in the region.
“The reality is Hamas makes billions and billions of dollars from perpetuating this war. They’re subjected to the propaganda from their side, the miseducation; they’re raised in hate,” said a pro-Israel demonstrator as he pointed at the pro-Palestine protesters.
“Palestinians have been forced to pay the price of European and American sins against the Jewish people, and they’ve been made scapegoats for the antisemitism of the West,” said pro-Palestine demonstrator Krishna Madan.
When asked if she’s talked to any family members in Palestine, the woman marching in support of Palestine said, “Well, Israel cut off electricity, so a lot of people can’t reach their loved ones, and they’re very worried. I mean, Israel has been leveling buildings, and it’s killing entire families, so everyone’s on edge right now.”
Despite differing views, both groups agreed that the loss of innocent civilian life is not OK.
“We’re overwhelmed with emotions, and I pray for my people. I pray for civilians on both sides,” said the woman marching in support of Palestine. “Their lives are valued just as much.”
Demonstrators from both sides said more rallies are expected to be held locally this week.
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